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For anyone planning a visit to Sydney/Melbourne with...

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For anyone planning a visit to Sydney/Melbourne with...

well, i landed back at Heathrow this morning after spending the best holiday of my life in Melbourne and Sydney (and 3 nights in Hong Kong en route). I first found this fantastic forum back in November last year when planning my once in a lifetime experience with my 9 year old son, and I'd just like to say how helpful and informative everyone has been in assisting with ensuring that we did this properly.

Having been one of those people who really didn't have a clue where to start, I thought a brief report of our trip might help anyone else planning to bring children to this magical country.

we flew with Virgin from Heathrow to Sydney, via Hong Kong, and found the service faultless and completely child friendly. The inflight entertainment system kept George amused for the whole trip - movies on tap and computer games with his own console. Can thoroughly recommend them.

Nothing can prepare you for the sight of the sunrise over Australia for the first time after 20 hours of darkness, and the view of Sydney harbour in the early morning light, if you're lucky enough to approach Sydney airport from that direction. we got a little confused at Sydney International trying to find the bus for the domestic terminal but both people we asked for directions were extremely helpful, and one man even offered to help with our luggage. we immediately transferred on Virgin Blue down to Melbourne (again, a great service where they board families first), and were in my friend's house in Mount Waverley (suburb of Melbourne) 36 hours after we left the uk. My son didn't suffer from jetlag at all on the first day, and I think this was due to us spending most of that day in the swimming pool in the glorious sunshine.

we spent 10 days in Melbourne, which in hindsight I think was too much as I'd only allowed 3 days to see Sydney and we needed much more time for this. However, I was visiting a childhood friend who I hadn't seen in 2 years since she had the foresight to up sticks and emmigrate to melbourne so it was nice to catch up with her. Key highlights for us were:

the fantastic atmosphere in Melbourne for the closing of the commonwealth games - even though the streets were heaving with people, everyone was having a good time and we never felt unsafe at any point. Congratulations, Melbourne, on a brilliant closing ceremony. we felt very honoured to be part of that.

a trip to Philip Island to see the penguins returning to the beach at dusk, and spending the following day on the beach tackling the surf waves - my son loved this whole experience.

Melbourne museum and the imax theatre - some fantastic exhibits and the most brilliant rainforest - one of the only museums that has held my son's interest for the entire trip.

Melbourne Gaol to see Ned Kelly's death mask - very eerie experience.

Melbourne aquarium - we caught the train into the city and walked along the banks of the Yarra - we then went up the Rialto tower for some great views of Melbourne and the coast (and some great cakes).

Gelati from one of the south banks many cafes

Shopping in the toy department of Myer - transformers and lego at much reduced prices than the uk. I managed to ditch my son on one day (when he experienced a day at Mount waverley school with my friend's son) and we then hit Chadstone Mall with a vengence - can thoroughly recommend that for a bit of retail therapy.

Girls night out at Manchester Lane - great restaurant/bar with live music - food was impressive and the music great for dancing to for a couple of 40 something women who still think they're 18.

The public transport system in Melbourne was great - clean trains that get you anywhere you want to go.

we then headed off for Sydney, again with Virgin Blue, which we had booked in advance in the uk. we stayed at Manly beach which was, for us, the perfect solution to the problem of whether to stay at the beach or in the city. i think we definitely got the best of both worlds here and nothing could be more perfect than putting a tired child to bed and then sitting on the balcony with a glass of something very cold, watching the ocean - bliss. we got a taxi from Sydney airport, driven by the nicest man who gave us a mini guided tour as we drove to our appartment. Going across Sydney harbour bridge with our first real view of the opera house is a sight that shall remain with me forever. Manly beach, granted it was just out of season, was perfect - the beach was clean, unspoiled, safe and had some amazing rollers which my son and I enjoyed with body boards on our first day there, which we rented from a surf shop on the seafront. we had booked an apartment through Manly Paradise Motel(manlyparadise.com.au)

in the Ocean Royale building. The apartment faced the beach and was perfect - clean, modern, beautifully finished and quiet, with the added benefit of a lovely swimming pool and spa. I could have lived there. It was a short walk from there to Manly wharf to catch the ferry to Circular quay. we would have breakfast at one of the many seafront cafes (huge emphasis on healthy eating here - lots of smoothies), and then head out for the day. Sydney, without doubt, is somewhere I would want to revisit time and time again. we didn't do it justice with only having 3 days there, but we managed to see the aquarium, Talonga zoo (can thorougly recommend this for children - the skyride on the cable car is a great start to the day), Sydney tower (the Oztrek experience was great), monorail, opera house (even a 9 year old boy was impressed with this)and Darling Harbour. we had one sticky moment where we got the ferry to Lunar Park, only to get off 2 minutes before it closed (my fault - should have checked the times). we then had to wait for an hour before another ferry came to take us back to circular quay. so we walked up the hill and got the train, again assisted by very helpful locals who gave us directions.

There are very few places that have reduced me to tears on leaving, but Sydney did it for me. This was supposed to be a once in a lifetime trip, but I am definitely coming back.

I am very envious of anyone who is planning to visit Sydney/Melbourne for the first time in the future - you will have the most amazing experience - my one piece of advice would be to make sure you really make the most of your time there - it goes so quickly and there is so much to do, so plan as much as you can before you go and take advantage of this brilliant forum to pick the brains of people who live there and really know what they're talking about.

Sydney, Australia
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1. Re: For anyone planning a visit to Sydney/Melbourne with...

Hi Jetix,

It is so lovely to read your report about your stay in Sydney and Melbourne..expecially about Manly Beach..my favourite place in the world...where can you get this:

Manly is everything dear to my heart, as a young girl I grew up to understand that

Manly is everything Australian, it is our culture. A lively Sydney beach resort with excellent accommodation, restaurants, cafes and pubs. Its alive with screeching seagulls, long sandy beaches, small coves , inlets, swaying Norfolk Pines, bikinis, cold icy beer, surfboards, festivals, music, flip flops, pink zinc, fish and chips, yachts, boats, divers, fishermen, lifeguards, and an National Trust Oceanfront Promenade which was listed for the introduction of daylight swimming, surf lifesaving and board riding into Australian culture.

Surrounded by the ocean and harbour on three sides, Manly is unique with its 18 small cove harbour and ocean beaches it lays peacefully as a peninsula with stunning and breathtaking views. Now a major tourist beach resort with million dollar homes it has become one of Sydney’s most popular beaches and International destination for overseas travellers.

My Place in the world.

UK
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2. Re: For anyone planning a visit to Sydney/Melbourne with...

Hi Ellemay

You are so lucky to have been brought up in Manly - as I said, I could have truly lived there. I know it's easy to say that having only spent 3 days there when it's not heaving with people in the height of the season, and looking at it through rose tinted holiday specs, but it was one of the most perfect holiday locations i've visited.

Thanks for all your helpful advice before our trip. Without you and the other regular forum contributors, I'd still be looking at the guide book.

Sydney, Australia
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3. Re: For anyone planning a visit to Sydney/Melbourne with...

It is a pleasure to give advice..and its a pleasure to recieve it.

I just returned home from Greece ..two days ago..and I went to dinner with the Athens Tripadvisor expert..WOW ! I was so impressed with his hospitality and sincerity ..so overwhelmed...that it made me feel so good ..to be able to assist other travellers on their journeys...

and I am so happy you enjoyed the essence of Australia.

Glenlyon, Australia
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4. Re: For anyone planning a visit to Sydney/Melbourne with...

Thnx for the bit of info on Virgin Atlantic- will be flying them myself for the first time in December to London. Nice to get osme feedback on an airline not heard about often down here.

Geelong...
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5. Re: For anyone planning a visit to Sydney/Melbourne with...

Jetix, one of the really nice things for people who help out on TA is to get feedback like yours. I remember Almost middle aged from the U.S also submitting a fantastic review on his trip to Melbourne. You covered many of the places and things we like to promote, so glad they all worked out for you. Did I tell you about the BIG white pointers that cruise around Phillip Island...haha...don't worry I surf down there with them.

Manchester Lane and Bennetts Lane are places that I often recommend for "older" visitors who want a night out with good music and a good vibe, so it is great to see you enjoyed your night out there.

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6. Re: For anyone planning a visit to Sydney/Melbourne with...

Hi Wilnino

Having watched the 3D shark experience at the imax at Melbourne Museum, I'm suprised we went near the water at all. But I'm really glad we did. I think we went to Finn's beach (appropriately named) for some Sunday morning surf - so peaceful and fantastic waves.

Geelong...
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7. Re: For anyone planning a visit to Sydney/Melbourne with...

Well it is more Irish than that, Flynns Beach but you are right, it is a nice beach. Very close to the seal colony at Seal Rock, so we tell ourselves the big whites are well fed and don't need to chomp on surfers..haha. One of the great things about the Island is that you can surf there no matter which way the wind is blowing which makes it very popular. Water would have been a bit cooler, did you wear wetsuits or just tough it out...?? If you listen to Queenslanders you would swear our water was fresh out of the Antarctic :-)) Will

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8. Re: For anyone planning a visit to Sydney/Melbourne with...

When you're used to swimming in the English Channel without a wetsuit, your oceans are like a bathtub. So no, we toughed it out:) Although me in a wetsuit would have made a good shark deterrent :))

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9. Re: For anyone planning a visit to Sydney/Melbourne with...

What a great read your trip report was! I'm so looking forward to our 'trip in a lifetime' in August/Sept., my son being 13 is very excited too. The only thing so far that we've found out that is a bit of a downer is that supposedly the fairy peguin tour does not happen in Sept. (my son was not happy about that) but we are still planning and hoping and dreaming of how much fun we will have.

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10. Re: For anyone planning a visit to Sydney/Melbourne with...

Robin

Just a query re your comments that the penguin tour does not operate is September. I'm sure that the penguin parade is still on then and a look at the official penguin website does not mention anything about a closure in Sept. May be worth rechecking.

The site is http://www.penguins.org.au/ which will give you allrelecavt info.